Kidepo vally national game park is found on Uganda’s border with Sudan and Kenya and isolated from the Ugandan mainstream by the harsh plains to the north of Mount Elgon, Kidepo Valley National Park is truly stunning, boasting a real sense of wilderness that enchants visitors. Kidepo is Uganda’s second biggest National Park (1,442km²) and one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas, a tract of rugged savannah dominated by Mount Morungole and broken by the Narus Valley in the south west and the Kidepo Valley in the north east. Perennial running water in the Narus River makes Kidepo an oasis in the semi desert. This is wild, remote country with big skies, vast Rocky Mountains and golden green plains dotted with giraffe, zebra, lion, elephant, buffalo, ostrich, antelope and numerous other mammal and bird species. While the game viewing is excellent, it is the sense of supreme isolation that distinguishes this rare slice of wild Africa. Culturally this part of Uganda is also fascinating.
Apoka Tourism Centre – Great views overlooking the game rich narus valley. Kidepo Valley – stroll along 50m wide bed of white sands between the banks in the dry season, in the rainy season it is a river. Kanangorok Hot Springs – good picnic place with impressive views of the mountains. The biggest attraction is the ostriches that roam the area. Mount Morungule – home to the IK people, smallest ethnic group in Uganda. Namamukweny Valley – meaning ‘a place with no birds’ even though it is inhabited with lots of birds including the Eastern paradise-whydah, white-crested turaco, Abyssinian roller, green wood hoopoe and common bulbul among others. Lamoj Hills – Great spot for viewing the mountain reedbuck among other wildlife
Activities in Kidepo vally National park
Birding is a pleasure in Kidepo valley national park. The bird count in the park is at 465 bird species. Start from the Apoka rest camp and proceed to the fringes of the Narus and Namamukweny valleys. The park being savannah, it is easy to spot the birds as you move along. Birding is best in the morning or evening but one is free to spend the entire day with packed lunch in the park. The species of interest include; Clapperton’s Francolin, Purple Heron, Karamoja Apalis, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Abyssinian Roller, Eurasian Roller, Helmeted Guinea fowl, and several birds of prey.
One of the top activities to do in Kidepo Valley National park are safari game drives. They take place either in the morning, afternoon or evening. Game drives are guided and can be done from a 4 x 4 WD safari vehicle or a traveller can opt for a guided walking safari, with an armed ranger guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Game drives are the main activities that entice tourists to come on Uganda safaris. Animals seen on game drives in Kidepo include lions, elephants, buffalo, zebras, jackals, warthogs and different types of antelopes that include the beautiful klipspringer.
The Karamoja region has rich cultures of the Karimajong and Ik tribe. The Ik tribe is the most isolated tribes in Uganda living on top of Morungole Mountain. It is an extremely strenuous all-day hike to visit this endangered people group. They are largely peaceful hunter-gatherers who have retreated to the mountains for protection from the neighboring cattle-raiding tribes.
A visit to the Karimajong homesteads will give you a glimpse into their pastoral lifestyles, partake of the food, join the dancing, and purchase the crafts like knives, arrows, jewellery, and stools.
The most common cats seen on a game drive in Kidepo Valley National Park are lions. These are seen lying under trees, resting on rocks or hunting.
Occasionally, cheetahs have been sighted too.
Hiking and nature walks are also top activities to do in Kidepo Valley National park. The hikes and walks will take you to the Lomej Mountains which can be reached on foot. The hike takes four hours and starts at 7am. There are shorter guided walks that take about two hours, be taken through the Narus Valley extending over a 5km radius from Apoka Tourism Centre.
Visitors on Uganda Wildlife safaris in Kidepo can also take walks on the beautiful Kidepo River Valley between banks of attractive borassus palm forest or Namamkweny Valley which can be reached in one hour from Apoka.
Visitors to Kidepo Valley National park can also take a hike to the IK tribe to Morungole Mountains located outside the national park. This hike has to be pre-organized
The park is surrounded by local communities of the Karamajong and IK people. So, travellers to this wilderness national park can include a cultural tour on the top activities to do in Kidepo Valley National Park. The Karamajong and IK are similar to the Masai of Kenya and a cultural tour to these people will help you discover the unique culture of this remote tribe with the Lorukul Cultural Group or other cultural groups bordering the park.